Thursday, 31 March 2011

Here they come! These young Exmoor ponies are grazing a meadow at Hedley hall wood. They will stay here until late April when the meadow will be left empty for the summer to allow all the plants to set seed and flower. The ponies will then return in the autumn. These are young ponies once they are fully grown they will move onto 'harder' sites leaving the better meadows for the younger ponies.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

These are Luing cattle which are now grazing on Pegswood moor. The area hasn't been grazed for a while and so the rough rank grasses have taken over smothering out everything else. The cattle will eat down the rough grass and plunge up the mud around the edge of the wet areas. This will create a better habitat for the wetland waders and other birds which like this type of habitat.

Ideally the cattle would have been grazing there over the winter but the snow came just as they were about to go on so they went elsewhere instead, probably just as well for them! Anyway they have settled in now and will munching away there for a few weeks.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Today was the day we introduced some billy goats to a whinsill grassland site near Belford. The idea is that the goats will browse the bramble, gorse and other scrub that threatens to cover the fragile soils along the rocky outcrops. The surrounding field is grazed by cattle and sheep during the summer but they tend to leave the prickly stuff alone, whereas the goats will hopefully target it. Much of the larger gorse hs been cleared by wildlife trust volunteers and the aim now is to prevent its regrowth by targeted grazing. It will be a slow process but over a few seasons there should be a noticeable difference in the scrub cover, time will tell.

After a slightly nervous start Norbert, Oscar and Dirk headed odd to explore their new surroundings.

The goats have come from the Natural England NNR at Lindesfarne.

The grazing programme is part of a larger whinsill grassland project that has been running with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Tarmac, the Northumberland Coast AONB, Natural England,ourselves and local landowners.
The whole project is a fine example of partnership working at its best.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Moving the Highlands between fields at Havannah. It's always better to get them to follow voluntarily than to try and chase them. If they get upset there is nothing more awkward than a 'huffy highlander'!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Two Exmoor ponies Foray and Koala are now grazing on Druridge pools. They have been provided by the Moorland Mousie Trust and will be spending the summer in the Druridge Bay area moving from the pools up to East Chevington in the late spring. They will add another dimension to the mixed grazing programme that already uses cattle and sheep.